The matching of facial expressions by deaf and hearing children and their production and comprehension of emotion labels

J A Hosie, C D Gray, P A Russell, C Scott, N Hunter

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45 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the results of three tasks comparing the development of the understanding of facial expressions of emotion in deaf and hearing children. Two groups of hearing and deaf children of elementary school age were tested for their ability to match photographs of facial expressions of emotion, and to produce and comprehend emotion labels for the expressions of happiness, sadness, anger,fear, disgust, and surprise. Accuracy data showed comparable levels of performance for deaf and hearing children of the same age. Happiness and sadness were the most accurately matched expressions and the most accurately produced and comprehended labels. Anger was the least accurately matched expression and the most poorly comprehended emotion label. Disgust was the least accurately labeled expression; however, deaf children were more accurate at labeling this expression, and also at labeling fear, than hearing children. Error data revealed that children confused anger with disgust, and fear with surprise. However, the younger groups of deaf and hearing children also showed a tendency to confuse the negative expressions of anger, disgust, and fear with sadness. The results suggest that, despite possible differences in the early socialisation of emotion, deaf and hearing children share a common understanding of the emotions conveyed by distinctive facial expressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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